Yemen security forces open fire at Sanaa protest

Protesters in Sanaa, Yemen (8 March 2011) Anti-Saleh protesters have often faced fierce resistance from security forces

Security forces in Yemen have opened fire at a large protest outside the university in the capital, Sanaa.

They were trying to stop thousands of people joining a protest camp at the university calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.

At least 80 people were injured, and one subsequently died of his injuries in hospital, medics said.

There were also reports of protests in other Yemeni cities, amid widespread unrest in the region.

Tear gas

The Yemeni protesters, mostly students, have been camped out in front of the university since mid-February.

They want Mr Saleh to stand down and are calling for more job opportunities, an end to corruption, and a fairer distribution of wealth.

As large crowds tried to build up the camp, security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and live rounds.

Start Quote

It is a crime by security troops against students engaged in a peaceful sit-in”

End Quote Muhammad Qahtan Opposition spokesman

Medics told BBC Arabic that 20 people had been shocked by electric stun guns and that 85 people had suffered the effects of tear gas.

Several thousand women had also joined the march to mark International Women's Day.

Opposition spokesman Muhammad Qahtan said the incident had been "a massacre".

"It is a crime by security troops against students engaged in a peaceful sit-in," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

'No teaching'

Tuesday also saw protests in the southern city of Aden and in Ataq.

In Ataq, hundreds of children took mark in anti-Saleh demonstrations chanting "No studying, no teaching until the president falls," Reuters reports.

Middle East unrest: Yemen

Map of Yemen
  • President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power since 1978
  • Population 24.3m; land area 536,869 sq km
  • The population has a median age of 17.9, and a literacy rate of 61%
  • Youth unemployment is 15%
  • Gross national income per head is $1,060 (World Bank 2009)

In Ibb province, thousands of people took to the streets to demand action against Saleh loyalists who attacked a protest camp on Sunday.

More than 50 were injured in that attack and 18-year-old Omar Atta was killed.

His father told the protest: "My son sacrificed himself, this is my family's gift to the revolution in Yemen."

At least one person was reported to have been killed during a riot at a prison in the capital.

A prison official told AP that inmates had set blankets and mattresses on fire and occupied the central courtyard late on Monday night.

He said guards had fired tear gas and shot into the air but had not managed to subdue the violence, which continued throughout Tuesday.

Yemen is one of a number of countries in the North African and Middle East region that have seen increasing unrest since the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia were ousted in popular revolts.

Thousands of people have turned out for regular demonstrations in cities including Sanaa, Aden, Taiz and elsewhere, calling for corruption and unemployment to be tackled and demanding the president steps down.

The protests have often been met by riot police or supporters of President Saleh armed with knives and batons.

The president has been power for 32 years, facing a separatist movement in the south, a branch of al-Qaeda, and a periodic conflict with Shia tribes in the north.

He has said he will not seek another term in office in 2013 but has vowed to defend his regime "with every drop of blood".

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